Verdugo Views: Busy mom is part of church's history

Gail Marks left her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois on her wedding day in July, 1967 and headed for Glendale with her new husband, Ken. She quickly found a church home at First Congregational Church of Glendale.

The church, organized in 1911, celebrated its centennial last year and Marks was instrumental in compiling a booklet detailing those 100 years.

Here's a very short summary. Soon after its founding, members began planning a new church at Central and Wilson avenues. Construction began on June 12, 1912 and, amazingly, the small wood-frame church was dedicated on the last day of that same month.

The church flourished and in 1922, its members embarked on construction of a new and larger building, which was dedicated in 1923. However, Central was later widened, substantially reducing the building's frontage.

In late 1961, realizing the location was no longer advantageous, leaders purchased a site on Canada Boulevard and placed the old property on the market. It sold quickly, leaving them without a church home.

They shared the facilities at Central Christian Church at first, then found a temporary home at Forest Lawn's Church of the Recessional. Their present church at 2001 Canada Boulevard was dedicated in 1976.

Marks, who has been with the church for more than 40 years, joined the choir soon after she arrived. “It was a good way to meet people,” she said.

Her first child, Pam, was born when the congregation was at Central and Wilson; her second, Linda, arrived while they were at Central Christian Church, and Steven, her third, was born when they were at Church of the Recessional.

“I went to the women's evening circle but did not take on any large position (I was a little bit busy with three children) until Steven was in nursery school," Marks remembers.

Then she was asked to be the church treasurer. “I only served one year and then they found someone else. But no one would keep the job for more than one year, so the job kept coming back to me; eventually I was re-elected every year for 30-plus years," she said in a recent email.

After the old property was sold, members offered to store the furnishings to save on storage costs. The baby grand piano ended up in the Marks' living room, along with choir practice on Thursday nights.

That was when her husband, Ken, began sitting in. He joined the choir and sang with them until about two years ago. “Up until that time, I'm sure the church thought I was this single lady who just kept having babies — no husband in sight," she wrote.

“Doing the history book was a lot of work, but because I knew most of the ‘players,' it brought back some wonderful memories. Our children were raised at FCC and Pam was married there," she added. “I have many happy memories of wonderful people and lifelong friends who became our family, as our kinfolk were back in the Midwest."

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